US Plans To Withdraw Its Troops From Afghanistan By Sept. 11

Marco Green
April 14, 2021

USA officials provided details on Mr Biden's decision on condition of anonymity, speaking ahead of the announcement. USA officials have previously reported there are about 2,500 troops stationed in Afghanistan, though the New York Times reported last month about 1,000 more special operations forces were also stationed in the country.

Donald Trump, the president at the time, had reached an agreement with the Taliban in February 2020 to pull United States troops by May 2021 as long as the group promised not to support al-Qaida and other extremists.

A senior administration official said troops would begin leaving on May 1, with all forces, bar an unspecified number needed to guard diplomats, to return home on or before the September deadline.

"I find it ironic that, given the sacrifices we've made to move Afghanistan forward, prevent another 9/11, and ensure the enduring defeat of al Qaeda* and ISIS*, that on the 20th anniversary of the attack we're paving the way for another attack", he said.

The threat assessment report published Tuesday by the director of national intelligence said the Taliban "is confident it can achieve military victory".

Last month, President Biden said it would be hard to meet Trump's May 1 deadline to withdraw, though he signaled his willingness to end the war.

The U.S. will coordinate with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies and partners about a drawdown of their forces within that same time frame, the official said, and has told the Taliban that any attacks on U.S. troops during that process will "be met with a forceful response".

In recent weeks, it became increasingly clear that he was leaning toward defying the deadline.

If that happens, that would mean that all American forces will be out of the country by the 20th anniversary of the Al Qaeda attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The president decided that the deadline for withdrawal of USA forces had to be absolute, rather than provisional on conditions inside Afghanistan as the deadline neared, the senior administration official said.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell accused Biden of planning to "turn tail and abandon the fight in Afghanistan".

"The president deeply believes that in contending with the threats and challenges of 2021, as opposed to those of 2001, we need to be focusing our energy. on those threats and challenges that are most acute for the United States", the official said, citing competition with China, the coronavirus pandemic and the more distributed threat of terrorism. The military alliance has 9,600 personnel in the country, of which some 2,500 are U.S. troops.

Officials in Afghanistan are bracing for the withdrawal.

"We will have to survive the impact of it and it should not be considered as Taliban's victory or takeover", said a senior Afghan government source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Although successive USA presidents sought to extricate themselves from Afghanistan, those hopes were confounded by concerns about Afghan security forces, endemic corruption in Afghanistan and the resiliency of a Taliban insurgency that enjoyed safe haven across the border in Pakistan. Under previous Taliban rule, the rights of women and girls were curtailed.

"There is no easy answer", Reed said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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